For countless older Americans, the idea of being on the silver screen has some magic. Even in the streaming age, the thought of being a Hollywood producer has some appeal.
Unfortunately, that pitch can be a scam. Helen Grace Caldwell, an advisor for Citibank in Chicago, was recently sued in a case in which she allegedly duped elderly clients into financing a fake movie.
“Caldwell, 58, funded her ‘film career’ in part by persuading Citi clients to invest their savings in her film ventures, an alleged fraud costing them a collective total of as much as $1 million, according to a lawsuit filed against Citi and the former vice president by the Cook County public guardian’s office,” according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
Caldwell’s attorney has denied all allegations of wrongdoing. Citi lawyers denied the allegations in court.
Fraud against older Americans in investment schemes, reports the FBI, accounted for nearly one-third of the $3.1 billion in elder financial exploitation nationwide last year, up from less than 10% three years ago. Reported losses from elder investment scams have jumped tenfold in the past three years, to nearly $1 billion in 2022.
The public guardian’s suit was filed on behalf of one of Caldwell’s older clients, who is now living in a nursing home with dementia. According to the lawsuit, Caldwell misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars from the savings of three other clients as well, using the money in her film ventures.
Although it’s not clear if Caldwell presented the prospect of directly financing a film to her clients, the same warnings apply. If an investment appears to be too good to ve true, it’s often fiction.